How to manage diabetic wounds

Diabetic wounds are serious complications among individuals with diabetes. Even though diabetes is harmless if properly controlled, the abnormal level of blood glucose in the body can lead to some serious complications.

Possible causes of diabetic wounds

The main issue with diabetic wounds is delayed or poor healing. The healing issues are triggered by peripheral arterial diseases and peripheral neuropathy that develop with diabetes while the small blood vessels in various parts of the body particularly in the extremities become narrow and there is diminished blood circulation in these areas.

Diabetic wound

A diabetic wound can trigger chronic pain or completely painless.

The poor circulation in the extremities can result to diminished oxygen and nutrients to the body tissues and nerves which are required for healing. Over time, the nerves in these areas are impaired, thus reducing the sensation of pain, touch and temperature, thus making the individual prone to injury.

What are the types?

Among diabetics, each wound is a health concern and requires immediate medical care. The common types include wounds of external cause and those of internal origin.

Due to peripheral neuropathy, external wounds such as burns, cuts, bruises and bumps might go unnoticed. If left unnoticed for some time, delayed treatment can put an individual at risk for further complications.

The wounds of internal origin such as ingrown toenails, skin ulcers or calluses can result to the degradation of the skin and surrounding tissue, thus increasing the risk for bacterial infections.


Diabetic wounds are characterized by the following signs and symptoms:

  • Chronic pain or completely painless
  • Indications of infection (drainage of pus, dead tissue and foul odor)
  • Signs of inflammation (warmth, redness, swelling, pain and loss of function)
  • New episode of numbness and dullness (indications of nerve damage)
  • Fever and/or chills (indications of an increasingly worsening infection that can be dangerous)


The ideal treatment is focused on prevention since treatment for diabetic wounds only provides limited help. If a wound develops, the treatment includes the following:

  • All wounds should be clean and properly dressed
  • Antibiotics
  • Surgical debridement
  • Amputation of the affected limb


The prevention of diabetic wounds is vital for diabetics to ensure a normal and active life. Remember that diabetic wounds can be debilitating and even dangerous in some cases. The preventive measures include the following:

  • Follow the recommendations given by the doctor on treatment and lifestyle adjustments such as a proper diet, regular exercise, stopping smoking and regular monitoring of the blood glucose levels.
  • Regular inspection and cleaning of the extremities since they are prone to injuries and ulcers.
  • Careful trimming of nails using a safe nail trimmer
  • Wear dry and clean socks to protect the feet and avoid walking barefoot

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on diabetic wounds is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage diabetic wounds and perform proper wound care, register for a first aid and CPR course with Kelowna First Aid.